With over 6,000 non-profits in the metropolitan area of Austin, Texas (Central Texas as it is referred to here) there is a lot of heart and soul in this city working for the Good of others.
Since arriving in Austin in May, I have had the good fortune of being guided through the nonprofit sector here by leaders in the community. I was lucky enough to arrive just before the Greenlights’ Board Summit, which took place in the Bob Bullock Texas State Museum lobby, showcasing over 50 Austin area nonprofits seeking to fill a variety of board level positions. Matt Kouri, the Executive Director of Greenlights, along with his team and the support of Leadership Austin, informed attendees of how to get involved, and get onboard with the general idea - is if you live here, you should give here. Austin actually has an organization - I Live Here, I Give Here, and they too are focused on encouraging this younger population, with an average age in the mid 30s, to not just take the time to volunteer, but to financially invest in the Good of Austin.
Greenlights is a 10 year old organization that is a catalyst of leadership and evaluation in the Austin nonprofit community. Coming from a very active nonprofit community in Brooklyn, New York myself, it is refreshing to see an umbrella organization like Greenlights that is analyzing the landscape, while also providing necessary feedback and services to improve the work and collaboration within the “giving” community. A difficult, but pertinent, question Greenlights asked this spring, “Does Central Texas Have Too Many Nonprofits?”. This topic is a sensitive subject to take on, but one that is on the minds of many communities challenged with resources - especially with the continued economic recession.
On November 19, 2008 The Foundation Center in NYC gathered over 200 nonprofit executives to discuss “game changing” initiatives in the face of financial crisis (follow the link) The Economic Storm: Challenges and Opportunities Changing the Paradigm to Meet Community Needs. Much of what was described that day in 2008 is still being felt in 2011. As small community nonprofits are faced with tightening services and administration funding, linking with like minds - just as households are doubling up to get through these tough times - may be a necessary prescription for our community groups.
Organizations like Greenlights, who are supporting nonprofits to think outside of their comfort zones and see opportunity in collaboration, instead of obstacles…they are like a jug of water in a drought summer season - precious and worth every drop.
As I further explore Austin, it will be fascinating to watch and learn from a generous of spirit city, and see how they too creatively face the difficulties of our times.
These thoughts are the sole opinion of Jennifer Hilton/The Good Roundup.
blog comments powered by Disqus